The Art of Innovating Food: Lessons from Super Garden

Laura Kaziukoniene profile
May 28, 2024   |   , Articles, Interviews
Share this article:

How a Lithuanian startup turned a simple observation into a global snacking phenomenon.

To succeed in the nearly $2 trillion European food and groceries market, innovation is a crucial ingredient. However, many aspiring entrepreneurs find the pursuit of innovation daunting and expensive, especially when competing against global giants with vast supply chains.

The journey of Super Garden, an Lithuanian freeze-dried foods startup, began with a simple yet profound moment at the breakfast table. Founder Laura Kaziukonienė noticed her children picking out freeze-dried berries from their cereal, sparking the realization that these nutrient-packed morsels could serve as a healthier alternative to sugary snacks. Motivated by a desire to change her life and start her own business, Laura set out to bring this idea to market.

The path to success wasn’t without its challenges. Educating consumers about the benefits of freeze-dried technology proved to be a significant hurdle. However, by emphasizing the retention of vitamins, absence of additives, extended shelf life, and simplified storage requirements, Super Garden gradually gained traction. Today, the company boasts the most extensive assortment of freeze-dried products worldwide, ranging from fruits and vegetables to meat, cheese, and even ice cream that doesn’t melt.

Here’s what Laura had to say about the art of innovation in the food business, and how she took an idea from the breakfast table to global markets.

You’ve said the idea for Super Garden came from seeing your kids pick freeze-dried berries out of their cereal. Walk us through that lightbulb moment – were you already eyeing the healthy foods space?

LK: At 40 years on the peak of a midlife crisis, I wanted to change something in my life and to start my own business. I was consciously looking for a new idea and considering many opportunities from clothes and jewelry to interior details. But I wanted something with a higher added value that would be suitable for development. I had been searching for the idea for almost half a year, and one morning, I found it on my breakfast table. My children liked picking berries from cornflakes. I decided to offer those berries, not as ingredients as they were in the market, but as a final snack.

How do you validate product-market fit before launching? What lessons did you learn?

LK: My family was the leading focus group. The children liked the berries’ taste and crunchiness. As a mother, I like the fact that freeze-dried berries retain all vitamins and nutritional value and don’t have added sugar. For the validation, I started only with packaging activities. When I got confirmation from the market that berries are requested as a healthy, innovative snack, I bought the first freeze dryer and started producing entirely. I began with six berries and chose the brand “Super Garden”. Now, we have the most extensive assortment of freeze-dried products worldwide. We produce fruits and vegetables, meat, cheese, dairy products, and liquids. Our bestseller is freeze-dried ice cream that doesn’t melt. That product opened doors to export markets.

How can freeze-drying combat issues like food waste, transport emissions, and hunger?

LK: Freeze-drying helps to save raw materials because we can produce our snacks not only from fresh but also from frozen raw materials. Secondly, natural and organic products don’t often fit appearance standards despite being perfect in quality. By freeze-drying, we retain all the value of products, no matter how nice they look. Our products are about ten times lighter than fresh ones, so transportation is easier.

Freeze-dried products don’t need a fridge, so storage is simple. The main advantage is long shelf life. If you buy fresh berries, they can last only a few days. The freeze-dried products can stay for more than two years, keeping all nutritional value and vitamins. That reduces food waste. Automation also allows us to be more efficient and more accurate in achieving quality standards.

Where is the future of food headed, and how is Super Garden positioning itself to lead that evolution?

LK: We created and patented innovative snacks called “bites” that in small shapes, sizes, and weights, contain huge amounts of nutritional value. For example, a whole carrot or 10 strawberries in a one-centimeter cube. Carefully selected ingredients yield the right carbohydrates, protein, and fat mix to perfectly balance a daily diet without food waste. It could also be 3D printed.

We wanted to change snacking habits towards a healthier direction in an interactive way.

For other startup founders, what advice would you give on bringing a game-changing product to market?

LK: I would urge them to consider the Japanese concept of “reading the air” to understand the situation better. Once they have identified the right idea, aim to secure three times the amount of funding initially calculated in their primary business plan.

“Kuuki wo Yomu” (空気を読む) is a Japanese phrase meaning “understanding the situation without words,” akin to the English “reading between the lines.” It involves sensing the mood of the room, recognizing market trends, and showing respect.

Also read: Unspoken Rules: How to Read the Air in Japanese Companies

Key takeaways:
  • Inspiration can come from unexpected sources
  • Educate your target audience about innovative solutions
  • Validate market demand before fully investing
  • Embrace technology for sustainability and convenience
  • Leverage automation to enhance efficiency and quality
  • Innovate with customer-centric, engaging products or services
  • Stay attuned to market trends and secure sufficient funding


Brochure Events